By Kimberly K. Fritz, Kenner Army Health ClinicNovember 1, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 25, 2012) -- Each fall for the past nine years, military and civilian employees throughout Fort Lee have teamed up to support the Department of Army Best Warrior Competition -- an event that brings 24 of the service's top Soldiers together to test their military skills and mettle in a series of challenges that exude the highest Army standards.
Kenner Army Health Clinic is among the supporters. Its role was apparent at a mass-casualty event during the wee morning hours of Oct. 17 in an area near the Post Field House. Thirteen experts from the KAHC Medical Company graded the competing Soldiers and NCOs as they performed first aid on role players with a wide variety of simulated injuries.
Master Sgt. Douglas Schwab, Kenner's senior enlisted adviser, said Best Warrior gives the medical company troops an opportunity to put their field-environment skills to use, and he called it an honor to support the competition that's overseen by the Sergeant Major of the Army.
"We look forward to this competition every year," he said. "It's a place where we can put our skills to use and also work with the Army's best."
Staff Sgt. Sherry Dixon, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Wilkerson Pediatric Clinic, said they evaluated candidates on their ability to meet or exceed the standards in an environment that becomes especially challenging when organizers add real-life scenarios, like combat-wounded Soldiers.
"The stressors added to the scenarios always separate the mainstream from the best of the best," she said. "Combat medics (and troops rendering immediate first aid) must remain calm and accurately recall all of the rescue procedures that need to be performed because someone's life is at stake."
The Oct. 17 scenario involved an active shooter situation and the environment -- screaming and moaning role players, and ghastly wounds -- was nothing short of chaos. Dixon complimented the competitors for keeping their composure under stressful and realistic conditions and performing at their best or, in some case, far better than expected.
Sgt. Laura Gonzales from the Family Medicine Clinic said the warriors were graded on proper placement of a combat application tourniquet, bandaging wounds, single person carry or movement of patient to a casualty collection point and proper documentation of an injured Soldier.
"The competitors did a great job focusing despite their surroundings," she said. "In situations like this, the training Soldiers receive does become almost like breathing. As a medic, I know that the injured person's life is in my hands. There isn't anyone else there to help him. During pre-deployment training, I heard and saw all of the explosions but once I realized there was a casualty the only thing that mattered was making sure they had the best chance at a full recovery."
KAHC Medical Co. 1st Sgt. David Faughnan said Kenner also supports Best Warrior by providing an NCO for the planning and preparation phases. Sgt. 1st Class Eric Kelley was assigned to the Warrior Training Cell beginning in June and helped to create and oversee the event.
Kelley ensured each of the competitors had the proper medical equipment needed to treat the simulated wounds.
Dixon, Sgt. Stephanie Van Ausdall and Sgt. 1st Class Gary Rodney each received a coin from Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler for their work during the event.
Dixon said she was honored and happy to be selected to receive a coin from the SMA.
"It validated my philosophy about doing the right thing all the time, no matter who is or isn't watching," she said. "It is great to be rewarded for your efforts, whether it's a coin or a simple thank you."